Has anyone run a Cost-benefit analysis on working in Cryptography? (mainly Post-Quantum Cryptography)
I wrote a report on quantum cryptanalysis!
The TL;DR is that it doesn’t seem particularly prioritary, since it is well attended (the NIST has an active post quantum cryptography program) and not that impactful (there are already multiple proposals to update the relevant protocols, and even if these pan out we can rearrange society around them).
I could change my mind if I looked again into the NIST PQC program and learned that they are significantly behind schedule, or if I learned that qauntum computing technology has significantly accelerated since.
I am not a cryptographer (though I do have knowledge in cryptography) and did not try to run an explicit cost-benefit analysis. Nevertheless, I think that being a researcher doing similar things to the other researchers in this field is not likely to be impactful (for various reasons, e.g., quantum resistant ciphers exist, while quantum computers [at scale] do not; and this research field is quite active so I don’t think there will be any shortage of solutions in the future). I think that it is possible (but not plausible) that one could come up with an alternative path within this field that would be impactful, but I don’t have any such ideas. Moreover, that would have to be a case-by-case analysis rather than an a priori cost-benefit analysis, so I am not sure carrying such an analysis would be helpful, and I would rather try to think of such alternative paths. (One alternative would be working on cryptography in the industry to earn-to-give. I actually think this is not a bad idea if one is a good fit.)